Abstract for Human Trafficking and Gender in Merchants of Flesh by Ifeoma Chinwuba

Abstract: The novel Merchants of Flesh mostly deals with human trafficking especially the share of women in the traffic of other women. Gender studies in anglophone African literature mostly reveal that African female writers’ literary productions have greatly held man responsible for women’s plight in society. However, in Ifeoma Chinwuba’s Merchants of Flesh, it is women referred to as “madams” who are the mistresses of the sexual slave trade. Consequently, women buy, resell, oppress and exploit fellow women. Despite some minor allusions to male masters, women greatly dominate in the lucrative traffic of girls. Interestingly enough, gender-related issues attract the feminist reader’s attention since Chinwuba exhibits women’s violence against other women through girls’ trafficking to the European sex-markets. The main point of this study is to investigate how Chinwuba articulates women’s oppression by other women and the narrative strategies used to free and emancipate the trafficked and enslaved girls. Though most feminists promote the liberation of women from male hegemony, our essay argues that feminism can also be used to free women from other women’s oppression as is the case in Merchants of Flesh. Womanist and feminist analyses have been adopted as theoretical frameworks for this academic quest.

Keywords: Feminism – Gender – Girls’ Trafficking – Human Trafficking – Oppression – Sex Trade – Womanism